“The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” (Matt 26:24)
Many understand this passage as though it said that it would have been good for Judas not to have ever existed, but what it actually says is that it would have been good for Judas not to have been born. In other words, it would have been better for him to have been aborted before birth. In Ecclesiastes 6:3 it says: “If a man begets a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with goodness, or indeed he has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better than he” (Eccl 6:3). A stillborn is a child who was conceived and therefore exists, but since he was aborted, he would go to heaven without having to face judgment. While it is certain that an aborted child loses the great opportunity of an earthly development, if one were to live and not fulfill his purpose in life and die without burial, Solomon says that it would have been good for him not to have even been born. Therefore, when it says that it would have been good for Judas not to have been born, it is saying that it would have been better for him to have died an aborted child than to live and face the consequences of betraying the Son of God. It is not saying that it would have been better for him to have never existed, as many suppose.
Jesus uses the same expression that Salomon uses elsewhere in Ecclesiastes 4:3. In this passage Salomon explains the reason why he considered it better for one not to have been born:
“But better off than either are those who have never been born (gínomai), who have never seen the injustice that goes on in this world.” (Eccl 4:3 TEV)
The reason Salomon gives as to why it would be better not to be born, is because of the evil one faces in this life on earth. He says nothing concerning the afterlife in this regard. Surely, Judas’ recognition that he had played into Satan’s hands, betraying the Savior and shedding innocent blood, made him wish he had never been born. When he realized how Satan had used him, he refused to receive the payment and threw the money at the feet of the chief priests and elders. Then, wishing he had never been born, he went out and hanged himself.
According to the traditional view of eternal punishment for the vast majority, it would have been better for almost all rational beings to have never existed and not just Judas, since according to them the majority will be tormented throughout all eternity. Also, tradition says that all who commit suicide will go to hell forever, and since Judas committed suicide, they would say that, for that reason also, it would have been better if he had never existed. However, in the Scriptures there is total silence concerning the destiny of those who commit suicide. Therefore, to my way of reasoning, we should not presume to know that which God has not revealed. If we wish to make a pronouncement concerning suicide, I believe that we are safer to cite the words of Jesus when He said: “every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men” (Matt 12:31).
This article is an excerpt from my book The Triumph of Mercy